It pains Dr. D to see saber pieces that are wealthy in mathematics, but poverty-stricken in logic and common sense. When diverse views pain Dr. D, his reaction is not to call for firings and safe spaces, is not to take a mental health day off work. His reaction is to express ideas that he sees as the refutation. Thusly:
This article, "Nobody has ever made the playoffs with a rotation as bad as the Mariners," you knew before you clicked on it that the logical construction would be dubious. This turns out to be the case. In a midpoint statement and in the final paragraph, it's clear that the title was not overstating the author's reservations:
Their starting rotation has been terrible, injured, and one of the worst units in baseball, yet Seattle remains in the playoff hunt. Is there any precedent for a team like this being a playoff team? As you can surmise from the title of this article, the short answer is no.
Looking at what has happened helps us gauge what is likely to transpire in the future. Like the birth of a star, however, sometimes we are lucky enough to glimpse something entirely new as it bursts into existence. The Mariners will have to surpass precedents as old as professional baseball itself.
The comments back the author to the hilt -- "Yeah, what a joke that we're even talking about a playoff spot with four horrible starters." That's their right to get this all wrong, as it is Dr. D's right to reply.
1. Note the weasel words "Looking at the past HELPS us gauge what is LIKELY to transpire in the future." Then we proceed straight to the dogma, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 ... as if we had not just stipulated a devastating flaw in our own concluding statement.
To a sabe, dogma is as easy as merely checking the 2016 records. Then go ahead and dogma the 2017 future, at least in terms of "that's the best info we had at the time." Sabes forget that stats are backwards-looking and they genuinely, truly over-estimate the value of past performance.
That's not a quibble. It's huge. Past performance is --- > almost the OPPOSITE of what Pete Carroll is looking at in training camp right now. Same with Jerry Dipoto, to a lesser extent. Gallardo being yanked after 4.1 didn't have a lot to do with his past records. Decisions on the August-September rotation and bullpen will have very little to do with past records!
Past performance has value. What it does not do, is entitle a sabe to regard himself a scientist performing repeatable double-blind experiments and forecasting a hammer falling to the ground under the laws of gravity. Jerry Dipoto and 29 other GM's are clear on this; sabes are not clear on this. They work with (past) stats and they figure these past records are 99% of baseball wisdom.
Players' performances are in constant flux! USE past records. As PART of a path to insight.
2. You are comparing a 110-game team to a bunch of 162-game teams.
If you went back in 2027 and looked at those 400 teams with their finishing ERA's, but checked these 400 teams' stats at game #110's in their seasons ... you would find many, MANY teams that had rotation troubles in July but came up with solutions in August or September.
If the 2017 M's make the playoffs and do well, they WILL HAVE THEN --- > gotten Felix going, maybe Marco going ... removing them from this "outlier" status. And then some future sabe, 50 years from now, will see the 2017 Mariners as one of those "teams with respectable FIP's" that some 2067 baseball team is not measuring up to.
It is possible AND LIKELY that the 2017 M's will have better rotation statistics at the end of the season -- and that's who the article compares us to, teams at the end of their seasons.
3. (Less important) That #5 playoff spot is critical and is not "as old as professional baseball itself."
There is no shame in winning the World Series (or Super Bowl) from a Wild Card slot. You can't even name the Super Bowl winners who got there from the WC. (Help me out here if you DO know all the teams who made the WS, who won their pennants, from a Wild Card slot. Would like to review the list.)
If that argument WERE true, that 125 years of playoff teams had better #2-5 starters than us ... this is the 21st century and there are 10 playoff teams now. Not two. We don't have to catch the Yankees, the way the 1967 Red Sox would've had to.
4. You can measure team pitching in lots of ways. The Mariners' team ERA+ is 96 and getting better. Is that honestly our impression, that "no team like this" (96 ERA+) has ever made the playoffs?
5. We've gone through 30+ pitchers. Even if 125 years of playoff teams had pitchers better than Christian Bergman, they might not have had pitchers better than Zeus, Marco, and Erasmo.
6. etc etc.
We agree, of course, the M's have some work to do on their rotation. If that had been the point, no worries no hurries mate. The M's strengths are battling against their #2-5 SP's, yes. If that had been the point, it would have been true.
But!? "No team like this ever made the playoffs" ?! Not accurate --and also not DIRECTIONALLY accurate. No snark intended, it is the kind of position you take if you've got a stats database but haven't been watching baseball long. That, or not paying much attention to the macro game.
Lots of baseball teams have one good pitcher and overcome the situation. It's as normal as NFL teams doing well without much of a pash rush, or NBA teams doing well without rebounding.
Except for that, good stuff, amigo. Your friend, Jeff
PAXTON VS SKAGGS
Earlier today we talked about the 1995 M's going 27-3 in Unit starts, and about -10 games under .500 in every other game. This year? The M's are 13-6 in Paxton's starts, -4 under .500 in other starts; as you know +7 of those wins have come in Paxton's last 7 starts. Paxton has about 10 starts left and we all assume* they must go 8-2 in Zeus' starts.
For me, a big part of the goal is preparing Zeus psychologically for a play-in game, and the games beyond it. Tonight's big faceoff against the Angels could be part of that. Hey, the pitcher holds the ball. Even if the Yankees are up there glaring ferociously and are in fact concentrating very well, the fact remains that Paxton can throw a 97 fastball on their hands, can throw a foshball to break below the knees. We SSI Denizens want to see signs that Paxton is grokking his own ability to defeat the very best hitters.
DUTTON'S TWITTER FEED
Several cool tweets today. Vieira maybe up Sept 1, Bach on fire, cool nicknames on M's weekend uniforms.